Merhaba arkadaşlar! Nasılsınız?

My name is Tacko and I’m greeting from the beautiful city of Izmir in Türkiye. First of all, let me tell you more about myself: I’m a French-Senegalese volunteer here at Pi You Association. I’m here for a long-term mission and I’m super excited about it!

Now you must be wondering, how did I end up in Turkey as an ESC volunteer?

My journey starts in France in the beautiful city of Villepinte where I’m originally from. After graduating from university, I was actively looking for opportunities (ideally abroad) that would bring more meaning into my life. I was in a phase of where I felt a bit lost and needed purpose. And most importantly I was craving adventures and new connections!

As I had an interest in involving myself in social work and volunteering before, when I found out about the European Solidarity Corp program I just jumped on the opportunity and immediately started looking for missions. Once I put my mind to it, I had to target the kinds of missions I wanted to invest myself in. I then started to apply and that’s when the interview process started! I remember mine like if it was yesterday Muhsin and Nisa were the ones interviewing me and it was so nerve-wracking to have an interview in English (I wasn’t used to it) that when Muhsin asked me the first question I just did a full-blown monologue. I barely breathed through it all. But in the end, it went pretty well. They gave me a chance so I packed all that I could fit in my suitcase for one year and started planning my move to Izmir.

But things wouldn’t be fun if everything went to plan, right? After some tribulations related to the renewal of my passport (i.e. trying to get a legal document in less than a month) I booked my flight the very day I got my passport and flew to Izmir on Sunday 3rd of September. Landing in Izmir was the most surreal feeling ever! And as tired as I was. I could barely contain my excitement when walking through the streets of the city which I would later call home. All my senses were alert, trying to soak in what was unfolding in front of my eyes. I could not believe that I actually did it. I, the girl who never left her country alone, just landed in Izmir. And not even for a few days but for one full year. That night, I met my flatmates, who were later gonna become my friends and discovered the neighbourhood I was going to live in for one year. Having never lived in such a lively environment before, I was like a kid in a toy shop. 

I got to take part in very interesting events right away like the Fair in Kültürpark that took place the first week of September. It was a major event where I, alongside with the other volunteers got to meet Turkish people and share about mobility programs and our journeys as to how we ended up in Turkey. Alongside with some of the mentors we also strolled around Izmir and discovered cool spots.

In October, I started working in the office with Anil. My tasks are administrative, so I help around and assist with the sending of Turkish volunteers abroad. So far, it’s only the beginning but I can say that I’m learning a lot! I’m really grateful for the opportunities that I get with volunteering at Pi Gençlik Derneği. And my hope is to be as useful as possible in the period I will be here for. The month of October ended with a really cool trip in Afyonkarahisar for our on-arrival training. There we met so many other volunteers from different organizations around Turkey. We ate, shared, learned, and laughed a lot during these 3 days and for that the memories made in Afyon will forever hold a special place for me.

And of course, I cannot let you go without talking about my experience with Turkish! As beautiful and melodic as it is, I knew that Turkish would find itself to be a challenge for me as it is quite different from my mother tongue. Landing in a country where you don’t speak the language is disconcerting to say the least. But the reality is that in order to survive you do need some Turkish, so I started from scratch by learning the basics for daily life stuff. And honestly people here are so helpful that when they see you try, they will attempt to meet you halfway too. So far, my Turkish is honestly not good, but I hope that it will improve with time and effort on my part.

What I take from these first two months in Turkey are the wonderful new experiences and people that I met since I arrived. The office team, our team of volunteers and just all the kind souls whom I had the pleasure to cross path with. If you are one of them and you are reading this, thank you, you brightened my experience and making me feel welcome in a country that was at first so foreign, but that now feels like home.

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